8 Aug 2008

High incidence of Inflammatory Bowel Disease in NZ

8:14 pm on 8 August 2008

An estimated 10,000 New Zealanders are battling a disease that is devastating to many and largely hidden from society.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease - Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis - are on the rise throughout the Western world, and New Zealand may have one of the highest incidences.

IBD strikes at a critical time of life - often in the teens - and again after 50 with symptoms most don't want to talk about, even to their closest friends.

Wellington Hospital clinical leader of gastroenterology John Wyeth says it's increasingly common, and teenagers are among the most affected.

Support groups are struggling and want greater recognition and more help. Doctors say access to the best drugs for those in serious need is variable around the country.

Subsidised medicines are available, but specialists say access to drugs for severe IBD - Infliximab and Adalimumab - varies between DHBs, because of the price tag of up to $43,000.

More can be heard on Insight on Sunday.